Bidder Street, E16

Place Name

Named after the man credited with being the maker of modern West Ham. George Parker Bidder (June 13, 1806 – September 20, 1878) was an English engineer and child prodigy from Devon. The son of a stonemason he showed signs of his mathematical genius at an early age – so much so that his father exhibited him at local fairs charging people to see the “calculating phenomenon”. He was saved from a life as a sideshow exhibit by Sir John Herschel. Following an education in Camberwell and the University of Edinburgh he went on to become a civil engineer working for Robert Stephenson. Among his projects were the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway, which opened in 1846, from Stratford to North Woolwich, with an intermediate station at Barking Road. The line was intended to principally carry coal from the Thames but it also soon gave rise to manufacturing industries at Bow creek, including the shipyard of C. J. Mare & Co. Soon after the completion of the railway, he began work as chief designer on the Victoria Dock. Importantly he utilised the Essex marshes for dock accommodation on a large scale.

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